Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

December 22, 2011

Hiking Anaga Mountains, Tenerife

The dry creek is a steep descent below me
Waking up to another day of very hazy sunshine, we knew a day on the beach was out, and opted for another day of hiking on a (hopefully) fog-free north coast.  I had naturally picked one of the (supposedly) hardest hikes in the book, and Rob was up for what sounded like a really wicked canyon scramble.  With hike descriptions such as "The vertiginous path across the rock face" and "This should only be attempted by experienced mountain walkers...." and "This nail-biting stretch last for 10 minutes...."  I was anticipating a marathon's worth of danger, but the actual trail was less horrible than expected (and only 7 miles), so mere mortals shouldn't be afraid to try it.  The views, however, were stupendous.

But I digress.

Walk # 41 from the Tenerife Rother Walking Guide, Barranco del Rio and Barranco Seco (7 Miles)

It was a beautiful but curvy trip up into the north mountains, which at times are so steep that roads are a big challenge.  Hence there aren't many of them, and the small villages feel very isolated.   We were delayed slightly in our drive by the crossing of runners in the 2nd Annual Anaga Marathon...darn, if I had only know about that race! 

Finally, going in the right direction!
 We had our own trail to conquer, and started out from the tiny village of Batan, me with my nose in the guidebook, but not quite deep enough as it turns out.  I knew the walk was in a canyon, I read enough to see where it said "downhill for 5 minutes", and blithely set off into the cultivated terraces with Rob trailing behind taking photos.  On our way down we heard the most beautiful echoes coming up the canyon from a loud radio playing in one of the terraces...it was somehow unearthly, and made my huge avoidable navigation blunder big mistake seem worth it.

It was only after 20 minutes and a dead end over a steep-walled canyon waterfall that I went back and realized that our first mile should have been up and over a ridge!  Doh!  Rob was a good sport and followed me back up the steep terrace steps, and we were both sweating more than we would the rest of the week when we ignominiously arrived....back at the car.  Whoops.  We set off again.

In my defense, the trail was not marked (perhaps to deter less strapping specimens from attempting it?), and finding the right trailhead was another few minutes of dithering, plus a few more wrong turns into terraces ending in steep cliffs.  But we persevered, as we could clearly see where we were meant to go from the ridge (uh, down, hello!) and soon found ourselves on the "dangerous" section.  With steps cut into the rock ridge, and dry conditions, it was just another flight of stairs, really. 

Don't lose your balance here...

Now we were in the bottom of the Barranco del Rio (River Canyon), picking our way for a while down the stones of the dry creek bed, and I missed another clue "Ascend to water canal and follow for 30 minutes".   What?!?!  We could see it above our heads, and snaked our way between cactus plants to get back up to it.   Running nearly level (but of course slightly downhill), the tiny canal twined around the deep canyons like a snake, and we followed it.  Now high above the canyon floor, we had no choice but to stay in the canal and definitely not fall off (or out of) its airy confines.

Around the bend, the ocean came into view, and slowly, every so slowly, the water channel got closer to the canyon floor again.  At a big water tank, we were finally free of it and back on solid ground again.  There we saw the last of the Anaga Marathon runners pass below us, heading up what I hoped was a more realistic trail than what we had just descended. 

Dropping into the tiny village of Punta del Hidalgo (it really was at the end of the road) we climbed steeply back up the trail into the Barranco Seco (Dry Canyon).  This actually was a signposted trail for a while, until we deserted it again to jump back on another section of water canal.  The channel was dry, as it hadn't rained in a while, but clearly was still in working order, and showed the extraordinary lengths that the locals go to in order to provide fresh water to their fields and families.  This water canal was even spookier, taking us through a couple of short tunnels and looking over a lot of empty air of the canyon. 

The circular hike concluded with a relaxing stroll through another quiet village, capping it off at the end with views over our earlier descent route.  With our wrong turns we were happy to have finished in daylight, and not as tired as we had predicted.  Cue up more walks in our future....

More photos are posted on Flickr


  1. Sounds like you have been having loads of fun in Tenerife!
    But when will you be coming to La Palma and having a go at a proper long walk, the GR130 right around the island? It's a bit of a toughie!

  2. Ann, as it happens we are going to visit La Palma next month! We're really looking forward to walking sections of the GR130 and discovering a new island!